If you're struggling with your weight or have a history of yo-yo dieting, then intuitive eating may be able to help. Find out what it is and how it can help you reach your goals!
Intuitive Eating: What is it, and How Can It Help You?
I'm just going to put it out there. If you want to lose fat, you have to be in a caloric deficit. How do you know if you're in a deficit eating intuitively? Is intuitive eating good for weight loss? Will intuitive eating make me fat? Can intuitive eating work? There's so much confusion around intuitive eating and its purpose. We tend to see many questions and misinterpretations about intuitive eating and when to use it in our journey. We often see this happen when someone says, “will intuitive eating work for me?”; usually, there's something behind that word “work .”
First and foremost, if you want to know if intuitive eating will work for you, you want to ask yourself that question. What do I mean by work? Are you using it for binge episodes, to lose weight, or go on a journey of self-love? There are so many different reasons why people head down the path of intuitive eating that it's crucial to understand what intuitive eating is and what it isn't.
I have found that when asked, “Is intuitive eating going to work for me?”, usually they are referring to a weight loss technique. With Eat More 2 Weigh Less, when I'm referring to intuitive eating, it's typically for someone in the “Chill Phase” or the metabolism reset phase. Those are the main two times that I would recommend that somebody venture into intuitive eating. The reason for that is that although there are five phases of EM2WL, typically three of those, you're keeping a tight rein on what you are eating. When you're tracking your food and keeping a tighter rein on what you're eating, it's a little bit harder to eat intuitively because you may want to eat something that will not fit in your calories or macros.
Who Can Benefit From Intuitive Eating?
If you … Are Healing From A Diet Mentality.
The best time to use intuitive eating is when you are trying to heal from a diet mentality. Diet Mentality is when someone is constantly thinking that getting smaller and being thinner will solve all of their problems – a thought process that has infiltrated and cultivated our society, even now. If you're of that mindset, then that's when intuitive eating could be a path you should set out on, to become okay with the fact that getting smaller is not the absolute solution to all problems. Diet mentality tells us that there's this quick and easy solution to something that has been plaguing us for our entire lives. “Try this 2 week, 30-day, 90-day diet and lose X amount of pounds!” When you start constantly chasing after all of these fad diets and thinking that you can solve weight loss issues overnight, that leads to this constant feeling of shame and failure when you don't succeed in a diet when in actuality, most diets are failing you.
If you … Struggle with Binge Eating.
Another instance where intuitive eating would be an amazing route to go on is if you struggle with binge eating. This typically carries over from dieting because we often don't realize that restriction typically begets binging. You see people constantly trying to like stick to this perfect way of eating, constantly restricting calories, removing things from your diet that you actually like and enjoy, or just eating too little food. It's going to work until it doesn't, and then when it doesn't. So when you're constantly struggling with these binges, whether it's a binge-purge cycle in the traditional sense of actually purging the food manually or a purge where you eat a lot of food and then you're trying to burn it all off with exercise. There's also restricting yourself so much that it leads to an all-out binge. So if you're stuck in that cycle, that's when intuitive eating can help because one of the biggest benefits is learning how to honor your hunger cues.
If you … Categorize Your Food In Extremes.
The third reason why intuitive eating would work for someone is to help them understand that every food serves a purpose. One of the things that we don't tend to realize when it comes to dieting, is that we start to slowly categorize food. We're trying to fit things into a very tight window of opportunity or a tight amount of calories, points, or whatever the case may be. You start looking at something with a lot of points versus a few points, high calorie versus low calorie, high carbs, and low carbs, constantly swinging in these extremes of high and low. So we start to develop this good and bad philosophy about food. Anything with a high amount of calories, fats, carbs, points, or whatever the demon ingredient is of the year is, we label as bad. Lower amounts we look at as good. When we start to live in this good and bad food mindset it puts us in this good/bad position regarding our behaviors. We begin to think that we are good when we undereat and bad when we overeat, eat foods that we love, or things considered “unhealthy”.
Intuitive eating can work wonders for you as you begin to cultivate this mindset around the fact that something can be healthy and high calorie/fat and can be good for you but be on the “bad list,” simply because it's good for you mentally. Some foods' entire purpose is to light up your taste pallet and make you happy. Sometimes the purpose is just happiness for that moment or taking a bite and truly savoring how something feels versus bypassing taste to hit some data point. This also means accepting that health and weight loss are not always synonymous.
If you want more info on how health and weight loss are not always one and the same, check out my youtube video Why Dieting Doesn't Work | The Truth About Healthy Eating
The fitness industry often tells us that losing weight is the epitome of health but that isn't always true. There are health benefits to losing weight, but there are also health repercussions to getting too lean as well. We look at women in the media and magazines who are doing fitness competitions, then doing photo shoots right after those fitness competitions that appear in our Instagram feed or magazines. And because they're gracing the cover of a “Health Magazine,” we cannot mentally detach those images from what's happening and understand that person was most likely at their leanest they've been all year. That physique may have been something that they've been working towards for three, six, nine months. and at the peak of that leanness, they were the unhealthiest that they had been all that year. They are now seeing negative repercussions of it, like not having their period anymore and losing essential body fat that their body needs. Most know this and plan to put back on their essential fat after the competition and go off and live happily ever after. However, we will continue striving for that image of them that we see in the magazine.
Having that intuitive eating period helps you see things for what they are. Learning to step away from the diet mentality, honor your hunger cues, get away from the good versus bad mentality, and learn to love yourself, right where you are. Loving yourself is crucial. It doesn't matter if you're a size 2 or 22, you can hate yourself and hate your body, just the same. When we step away from the thinking that size will magically make us accept ourselves, then true healing can begin. Even if all the commercials are saying the opposite and telling us that once we get to XYZ size, we love ourselves again. That is never going to happen. So if you don't love yourself as you are, it will not magically happen when you get to be another size.
It's one thing to have a goal for the sake of having a goal and achieving things that you thought you couldn't. However, thinking that the goal of losing weight is going to solve a bigger, deeper problem is that is when we need to take a step back and do more of the inner work to find out what we're seeking.
With that being said, if any of the reasons above are you then I highly recommended going down a path of intuitive eating or taking a chill phase, as we call it. Let that phase do what it is intended to do.